Congressional Control of Health Care is Dangerous for Children by Ron Paul

October 1, 2007

Congressional Control of Health Care is Dangerous for Children

by Ron Paul

This week Congress is again grasping for more control over the health of American children with the expansion of the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP).  Parents who think federally subsidized health care might be a good idea should be careful what they wish for. 

Despite political rhetoric about a War on Drugs, federally-funded programs result in far more teenage drug use than the most successful pill pusher on the playground.  These pills are given out as a result of dubious universal mental health screening programs for school children, supposedly directed toward finding mental disorders or suicidal tendencies.  The use of antipsychotic medication in children has increased fivefold between 1995 and 2002.  More than 2.5 million children are now taking these medications, and many children are taking multiple drugs at one time. 

With universal mental health screening being implemented in schools, pharmaceutical companies stand to increase their customer base even more, and many parents are rightfully concerned.  Opponents of one such program, called TeenScreen, claim it wrongly diagnoses children as much as 84% of the time, often incorrectly labeling them, resulting in the assigning of medications that can be very damaging.  While we are still awaiting evidence that there are benefits to mental health screening programs, evidence that these drugs actually cause violent psychotic episodes is mounting.

Many parents have very valid concerns about the drugs to which a child labeled as “suicidal” or “depressed,” or even ADHD, could be subjected.  Of further concern is the subjectivity of diagnosis of mental health disorders.  The symptoms of ADHD are strikingly similar to indications that a child is gifted, and bored in an unchallenging classroom.  In fact, these programs, and many of the syndromes they attempt to screen for, are highly questionable.  Parents are wise to question them.

As it stands now, parental consent is required for these screening programs, but in some cases mere passive consent is legal.  Passive consent is obtained when a parent receives a consent form and fails to object to the screening.  In other words, failure to reply is considered affirmative consent.  In fact, TeenScreen advocates incorporating their program into the curriculum as a way to by-pass any consent requirement.  These universal, or mandatory, screening programs being called for by TeenScreen and the New Freedom Commission on Mental Health should be resisted. 

Consent must be express, written, voluntary and informed.  Programs that refuse to give parents this amount of respect, should not receive federal funding.  Moreover, parents should not be pressured into screening or drugging their children with the threat that not doing so constitutes child abuse or neglect.  My bill, The Parental Consent Act of 2007 is aimed at stopping federal funding of these programs. 

We don’t need a village, a bureaucrat, or the pharmaceutical industry raising our children.  That’s what parents need to be doing.


The Money Has to Come From Somewhere by Ron Paul

September 25, 2007

The Money Has to Come From Somewhere

by Ron Paul

September 23, 2007

After the current turmoil in the markets, I was hoping that new Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke would see the big picture and act judiciously.  Instead he signaled, with an aggressive rate cut, that we can expect a continuation of the monetary policies that got us here to begin with. Alan Greenspan released his memoir this week explaining his policies and decisions in the wake of the irrational exuberance they fueled.  His successor should see that it is now time for a change of policy that addresses the root of our troubles. But instead of seeing an inflation problem, the Federal Reserve sees a liquidity problem, which is a little like extinguishing a forest fire with gasoline.  In the wake of the rate cut, the Dow jumped and brokers cheered.  Behind the headlines, however, the dollar quietly fell and was abandoned by more of the world in favor of more solid stores of wealth.

The Fed does not act in a vacuum.  Mr. Greenspan rightly criticizes Congress and the administration for abandoning principles of fiscal responsibility.  However, monetary policy at the Fed did nothing solve money problems, but merely delayed impending crises by creating bubbles.

In a very real sense, the Fed and the government are close to going over the spending limit of our nation’s credit card.  We rely on foreign investors to buy our debt so our government can maintain its appetite for spending.  Yet the market for US Treasury Bills is rapidly shrinking as yield declines.  Still the government will need an estimated $100 billion more for every year we “stay the course” in Iraq , not to mention what a possible conflict in Iran could cost.  

Yes, the money has to come from somewhere, but we are running out of sources to tap.

Printing more money is the Fed’s typical answer, but we are on the verge of runaway inflation.  We have printed so many dollars now that we are at parity with the Canadian dollar for the first time since 1976.   Since the Fed stopped publishing M3, which tracks the total supply of dollars in the economy, we can’t even be sure how many dollars they are creating.  Reported inflation is around 2%, but the method for calculating inflation changed in the 1980’s, largely at Mr. Greenspan’s urging.  Private economists using the original method find actual inflation to be over 10%, which matches more closely the pain consumers in the real economy feel. 

The reality is that this type of manipulation of the markets masks where resources, or money, ultimately comes from.  It comes from the taxpayer.  The government doesn’t create Gross Domestic Product, they just limit and control how it is done.  They then absorb much of the value produced in the economy through taxation and inflation, so they can squander our nation’s wealth with runaway spending.

The Fed tries to keep up with government’s spending habits, but is sending inaccurate signals to mask bad monetary policy.  Ultimately, we’ll get back on track financially only when government spending is held in check and the free market controls monetary policy, not the other way around.