Customer Reviews: Liberty Defined: 50 Essential Issues That Affect Our Freedom
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on April 19, 2011
I purchased the kindle edition and finished the book in 3 hours with several re-readings of some chapters/paragraphs.

This book is intended for rapidly imploding contemporary America, and could serve as some sort of ideological foundation for next 10 years to organize a political revamping of GOP which is in its death throes. It deals with Paul's unique approach as a conservative libertarian.

Surprisingly, the word libertarian has been mentioned only 6 times, whereas the word moral appears a good 109 times.

The writing appears to be universal in its appeal so that an Asian or African can also relate to part of its contents. Its main focus is on freedom, which together with diversity and harmony, forms the three principles of humanity.

The book is tabulated in 50 chapters and covers 5 principal themes.

1. Individual vs State: Chapters on Capital Punishment, Civil Disobedience, Public Land, Surveillance and Slavery deal with Paul's view of Washington DC's crack-down on "personal" liberty. Paul claims that Washington DC is violating personal and property rights of American people. Matters are at the tipping point so that in near future Americans will lose all remaining freedoms. However, he does not provide any timeline.

2. Foreign policy: Chapters on Assassinations, CIA, Conscription, Empire, Foreign Aid, Patriotism, Security, Terrorism, Trade Policies and Zionism. Paul claims that Washington DC's foreign policy is costing Americans in blood and treasure. These policies are advanced by neoconservatives, whose founders were Leo Strauss and Irving Kristol. But its executive roots lay in Wilson's presidency, who preceded Strauss & Kristol! Paul's prescription for Arab-Israeli conflict is Intermarriage, not war. But if the Congress declares war, would a non-interventionist Paul execute it as President? Further, if America withdraws, will terrorists stop attacking? If I (America) burn my neighbor's (Iraq/Afg) house and then withdraw and say sorry, will my neighbor drop the idea of bloody revenge? Unlikely.

3. Welfarism/ State Socialism: Chapters on Bipartisanship, Executive Power, Four Freedoms, Gun Control, Immigration, Insurance, Lobbying, Medical Care, Moral Hazard, Morality in Government, Prohibition, Public Land, Statistics and Unions. These chapters deal with centralization of power over individuals, families, towns and States. These chapters offer a grave warning to reader that charity and philanthropy is being replaced with government programs. Regrettably, Paul is crying in the wilderness for the noble concept of Tithe, which used to be customary in a bygone era. A revival of Tithe is the humane alternative to State Welfarism, so that the bottom 10%, the ones who have been left behind, can be helped.

4. Monetary/Economic Policy: Taxes, Monetary Policy, Keynesianism, Business cycle and Austrian Economics deal with the economic policy, monetary policy and Paul's pet topic, the Federal Reserve. Paul claims that Keynesianism confiscates all wealth from the poor, middle class, and the "justly" rich - to what he pejoratively describes as the "Goldman Sachs Elite". According to Paul, the Federal Reserve is more powerful than the Presidency. But if central banking and Keynesianism is so bad, how come Japan, China, Korea became so rich so quickly? Japanese, Koreans enjoy the longest life spans, the largest middle class. Keynesian Japan is the largest international creditor, and its huge public debt is almost all held by Japanese people, not foreigners. How is US different than Japan, Korea, China?

5. Moral Decline: Chapters on Abortion, Demagogues, Discrimination, Education, Envy, Evolution, Global warming, hate crimes, marriage, political correctness, racism, religion and liberty. Paul claims that organized special interests claim wealth, territory and power at the expense of unorganized (libertarian?) groups. He decries government imposed affirmative action and claims that it harms American people. But in Japan, Korea, Israel that's not the case. The State enforces the ethnic interests of the majority.

Paul warns that the ultimate goal of State Socialism is to transform Americans into helpless, subservient and docile cattle in the name of equality so that the 99% masses will toil, while the Washington/Wall-Street elite will enjoy. The book has some personal anecdotes and the reader gets a glimpse of some events from Paul's life.

Throughout the book Paul tries to convince that Golden Rule is wonderful. He cites passages from Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity in support of Golden Rule. On paper its appeal is undeniable. But 2600 years of Confucianism, Buddhism, Hinduism did not make China, India more peaceful. Indians invaded Malaya in 11th CE, Central Asia in 8th CE. Lower caste and outcaste Indians are still brutally oppressed. China invaded Vietnam, Korea, Central Asia many times. Middle East has been a cesspool of war and invasions since the dawn of time. Just look at the history of Europe under North Africans, Arabs, Turks, Persians...

Paul invokes George Orwell's 1984 several times to assert that this is where America is now. Towards the end, this book calls for character and action to save the "Republic". Not "utter cynicism", "endless policy details" and resignation.

In the age of 24/7 TV, sexualized culture, pleasure seeking "me me me" individualism, the capacity to achieve political success required to rejuvenate or even save a Third World America is just not there. Since libertarians are at the one end of individualism/collectivism scale, how do they plan to stick together "collectively" for decades until their libertarian dreams come true? Isn't Libertarian party a kind of collective?
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on April 19, 2011
For one who wants to see Ron Paul win the 2012 Republican nomination, the congressman's latest book is a bit of a let down. In contrast to a hard-charging campaign book like Harry Browne's The Great Libertarian Offer, or a memoir, it offers little of the kind of material media people look for. If Dr. Paul decides to enter the 2012 presidential race, it will do little to garner mainstream media coverage in the crucial early months of the campaign.

But Ron Paul is more interested in being right than he is in being president. Perhaps the only truly reluctant presidential candidate since George Washington, his primary aim is to educate. And he does it in the way of the Ancient Greek teacher; by challenging the untested points of his students' preconceptions, so that they come to the answers themselves.

One of the most interesting chapters in Liberty Defined relates to the obstacle Paul confronts in his aim to educate: demagogues who "manipulate a political issue in a manner to obscure or distort truth with emotionalism and take a principled stand by the proponents of liberty and reason and turn it into support for something ugly and mean."

As one illustration, Paul indirectly addresses the uproar his son, Senator Rand Paul, faced during his 2010 campaign when he suggested that business owners had the right to pick and choose their customers. "What liberal authoritarians don't quite understand," Paul writes "is that, if government has the power to control business establishments and all their decisions, they have justified the intrusion of government in every social aspect of our lives."

Though leaving specifics alone with respect to the Rand Paul controversy, there are enough personal anecdotes in Liberty Defined to satiate those waiting for a Ron Paul autobiography. In "Democracy," he discusses his experience with a stolen election. In "Evolution versus Creation" he recounts how he felt in a debate moderated by Chris Matthews and John Harris when asked to raise his hand if he believed in evolution. And in "Empire" we learn what quote is contained on a laminated card Paul carries with him and the story behind it.

If there is one thing in Liberty Defined that could put Paul at the center of a debate at the start of the 2012 presidential campaign, it is his remarks on civil disobedience. Though he has chosen political action over civil disobedience, he has great respect for those who, understanding what is at stake, challenge laws non-violently, and envisions a day when civil disobedience is the only option.

But to really compete in the Republican primary, Ron Paul needs to present a comprehensive agenda. The majority of journalists and political pundits view libertarian ideas as impractical. For those with a textbook to test paper view of history, libertarianism is a great unknown. Paul would do well, therefore, should he make the decision to run, to go beyond what other candidates offer in the way of details.

Ron Paul's greatest trait is his authenticity. When he sounds optimistic it is because he is feeling so. When he questions whether politics can change things, he does not hide it. You can trust what he says. For this, many philosophical differences are forgiven. His admission that civil disobedience might be the only option suggests a growing pessimism.

In perhaps the most revealing part of the book, Paul tells the story of Cicero, who "heroically refused to join Julius Caesar's betrayal of the Roman constitution and the rule of law." When Caesar was crowned dictator, Cicero wrote a series of books on history and politics and war. "Cicero," Paul writes, "would have been remembered for what he did to save the Roman constitution and the Republic. But his legacy was sealed for more than 2000 years by his philosophic dissertations that, once it was clear to him that the Roman Republic was dead, sprang from his effort to reflect on it."

But Liberty Defined was penned before the recent uprising in Egypt and other Middle Eastern nations. These pro-freedom movements demonstrate that the poorer people grow the more likely they are to revolt.

The price increases that ignited rebellion overseas are starting to be seen in the United States. While prices are rising, wages remain flat. Economists, meanwhile, are using nominal percentage gains in GDP to say that the U.S. economy is growing. Americans are growing poorer and they are being lied to. They are ready to hear a real libertarian agenda. Ron Paul is the person to offer it.
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on February 2, 2012
This is a great intro book if you are new to the political game. He sets out his views clearly and concisely.
If you've been following Paul and politics, you probably won't find much new information here.

As for the negative reviews: I noticed among the reviews of "The Case for Gold" by RP, there were 43 comments, 28 of which were negative. Of the 28 negative reviews, all of which were attacks on his character, ALL of the persons reviewing it simply went around on Amazon and commented on RP books with no legitimate argument. You can check this out for yourself. Simply go to the neg reviews from "The Case for Gold" and comb through each persons review history. It's easier to do than it is with 'Liberty Defined.'

You'll notice some similarities: 1) These people ONLY reviews RP books 2) ALL negative with NO substantive comment as to WHY they dislike it 3) Most have NO comments on ANY other amazon related product.

It simply appears that a small group of people are attacking him via amazon in order to dissuade you from purchasing or reading his books.

If you're still hesitant because of the comments, check out what he's about through google video, youtube, etc.. before you write him off as a "crackpot" or a racist.
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on April 19, 2011
Whether you agree with Dr. Paul or not is not an issue. This book is about clarity, not persuasion.

What I find most staggering about this new book is that Dr. Paul, a Congressman, surprises everyone by openly and honestly stating his views on 50 separate topics. A lot of these topics are controversial and a representative in the Congress would need strong determination in order to address these topics. By offering his views on these controversial issues, Dr. Paul makes himself incredibly vulnerable to any and all political attacks.

I am consistently impressed by Dr. Paul's resolve, courage and honest dialogs. He initiates a debate that goes well beyond the political punditry and dives straight into the philosophy of the issues.

Well done, Dr. Paul. Well done.
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on January 18, 2012

After painfully walking through all 9 pages of the 1-star reviews, I was in search of one which was an "Amazon Verified Purchase" (AVP) since I would then be interested in their comment.

Result: of the 87 1-star comments on 7 pages, THREE show up as an Amazon Verified Purchase!!!

I decided to review the 5-stars. In the first 3 pages, there were 15 Amazon Verified Purchase comments (may have changed slightly since this review).

Conclusion: VERY high probability that 1-star reviewers are liars when they imply that they've read the book since there's a high probability that they don't even own the book. Conversely, 5-star reviews have a high incidence of purchasing the book.

Its those 5-star AVP commentators that I take seriously as I do any-star AVPs.
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on April 19, 2011
Along with the superb Libertarian thriller Gods of Ruin and other excellent non-fiction, Ron Paul is leading the popular movement toward liberty. I've consistently said that if Rob Paul had the eloquence and speaking ability that Obama has, we might just have a liberty-loving president today and the result would be REAL change toward a sustainable government/citizenry balance.

Paul's latest is a fine installment in his relentless fight for common sense libertarian ideology. He says that to believe in liberty is not to believe in any particular social and economic outcome--but to know that people will make the right choices when government gives up the role of nanny and tyrant. With this general principle down, Paul goes on to show how the ideas of liberty can be applied to 50 hot-button topics today (from abortion to Zionism). It is consistent, fairly thorough, and absolutely brilliant. I highly recommend this work.
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on January 17, 2012
This book wrestles with some of the most difficult issues our country faces, issues most people running for President try to avoid, or gloss over, rather than address head on. Unfortunately, a group of people who have never even read the book are downvoting it and giving it bad reviews. If you read the one star reviews you can tell for yourselves that they never cracked the book.

From Abortion to Zionism, this book avoids nothing, and will make you think.
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on April 20, 2011
This book is a categorical look at the definitive aspects of our republic as it was meant to be. I, like most people in this country, only recently realized the real roots of our American dream were planted in the idea of expanding the liberty of the individual and the suppression of the state. This book lays out an honest and open opinion on how we have strayed, what we should be doing and why. I didn't start out thinking this way, but this message is hard to ignore.

I got out of the military in 2009 to find out Barrack Obama was president and I was pretty excited about it. I didn't vote for him but it sounded like a drastic redirect from Bush who I couldn't stand. I remember watching the debates before we went on deployment and bringing up "that Ron Paul guy" to some of my friends on the submarine I was on. A few of them said "yeah, I agree with some of what he's saying, but he's kind of crazy" so not really knowing politics or economics like I do now, I wrote him off. Huge mistake. After the economic crash and after studying who saw it coming and what was going on I found much of my new free time not in the military I was going to be able to read books and watching videos about what was happening to the country while I was enlisted and preoccupied with making rate and qualifying watches.

Now that it's 2011 and I've read everything I can about Libertarianism and Austrian economics, I've been sold on the idea. With the main proponent of the message, in my mind, being Dr. Ron Paul. This book might even be better than End The Fed, which is the most enlightening book on what's going on in our country I have read to date. I recommend anyone with an open mind read this book and forget your preconceived notions about capitalism and small government, because the case can be made very well for limiting the intrusion into your life as a better way of life, and I think Ron Paul nails it.
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VINE VOICEon April 23, 2011
Ron Paul is sometimes called the grandfather of the Tea Party movement. Godfather is perhaps a more appropriate term, but the collection of essays by Paul in this book shows that many on the right would be rather uncomfortable with Paul's consistent and thoughtful defense of liberty. While this book is, on the surface, a collection of essays on various topics, a couple of themes run through it from start to finish. Perhaps the most important is that our out of control government is fed by war. War is literally the health of the state, and those who seek limited government must start with dismantling our empire.

Of course, few on the right are willing to cut military spending, much less consider the suggestions Paul makes (abolish the CIA, withdraw completely from all wars, end draft registration, and repeal not only legislation related to various wars, but also end the ability of Presidents to write "excutive orders" to replace legislation, a power that arose during wartime). But they should look carefully at their opponent, President Obama. During the campaign, Obama sounded enough like a man of peace that even those skeptical of state power were cautiously optimistic, notably economist David Friedman. But once in power, Obama found that wars and the fear they generate was rather helpful in his new position. Not only has he not ended combat in Iraq, it now seems unlikely that our "withdrawls" will bring us down to pre 2008 levels. And of course, we have continued the senseless conflict in Afganistan, kept the Guantanamo prison open, and are still detaining suspects and torturing them. Indeed, Obama's administration has gone further even than the Bush administration in publicly announcing that it will use assassination as a technique of our "war" on terror, and US citizenship does not protect anyone from suffering this fate, a point Paul excoriates in his chapter on assassinations. It is hardly surprising that Obama, a statist, has continued and expanded upon the wartime powers of his predecessor. His vision of society virtually demands it, but those who claim to support limited government can and should do better. And that begins with the recognition that the so called "neo conservatives" who dominated the Bush administration are anything but advocates of small government.

Of course, many of the issues Paul examines are not directly related to foreign policy. Even here, however, his position is often at odds with the right wing politics Paul is often placed in by various pundits. He is, of course, pro-life (many obstetricians are) but he does not draw the conclusion that laws should be passed prohibiting abortion. He notes during his residency illegal abortions occurred and will if the procedure becomes illegal again. Changing people's hearts, the real solution, does not happen overnight. Nor does legislation (one way or the other) present a real solution. However, Paul is rightly concerned that those who claim to support a woman's right to "choice" over her own body seem rather oblivious to all the ways that government currently prevents such choices, always for our "own" good. Individual liberty, whether in matters of who we marry, or what we chose to do in the privacy of our own homes, is never the concern of the government.

Finally, a major theme of the book is how government regulation creates economic crises. Finally, one might say, an area where we can place Paul firmly on the right. And indeed, Paul does oppose most regulations and most taxes, but he is referring specifically to the Federal Reserve and how it controls the money supply. A tireless champion of auditing the Fed (it is amazing that we cannot even find out what the Fed does with the money it creates out of thin air) Paul would like to restore the dollar to some sort of gold standard that cannot be arbitrarily inflated. He rightly notes that government promises of "social security" are based on dollar amounts, but there is no guarentee, given our current state of affairs, that the "dollars" the government gives retirees will be worth much.

In all, Paul offers a remarkably clear sighted vision of what liberty looks like, on any number of issues that we face today, from "global warming" to foreign aid. And, despite efforts to categorize him (or in the case of some on the right and left, to demonize him) Paul's vision is fairly unique on the modern political scene. And if he is indeed the godfather of the Tea Party movement, then one can only hope his influence will be felt much more widely than it already is. Yes, government needs to be cut back dramatically, and no where is that more evident than in our commitment to the military state.
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on April 19, 2011
Whether he intended to be so or not, Ron Paul has become the most prominent libertarian in America today. His vocal presence in Washington, his frequent appearance on straw polls, and his consistent media coverage make Dr. Paul a formidable proponent for libertarian causes. As such, he is not unlike Voltaire was in the 18th century, a constant voice of liberty in the face of persistent tyranny and corruption by those in power.

It makes sense, then, that Dr. Paul would publish `Liberty Defined', which is a lot like the first encyclopedia (in which Voltaire had a central role beside Diderot). Like the encyclopedia, `Liberty Defined' covers the gamut--it encircles all issues relevant in modern society--and offers a reasonable account of each. Also like the encyclopedia, `Liberty Defined' has an agenda. Whereas the former sought to enlighten and disparage the tyranny of the church, the latter seeks to enlighten and disparage the tyranny of the welfare state.

What is most fascinating about this comparison is that Dr. Paul is most unlike the 18th century Enlightenment philosophers in that he is rather religious. Whereas Voltaire was strictly anti-church, Paul is strictly pro-church and does not hide from the fact (the first entry in this book is `Abortion', in which Paul gives his argument, rather driven by religious belief, against the practice).

The ironic thing is that the result is the same--they both want individual liberty--Voltaire wanted liberty and escape from tyranny so that he didn't have to practice religion; Paul wants liberty and escape from tyranny so that he can practice religion. The contrast is a perfect example of the difference between the 18th century and the 21st, and a testament to the universality of the concept of individual liberty.

For those who would like a similar styled "encyclopedia of liberty", regard Hayek's The Constitution of Liberty. This is an excellent way to start.
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