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ANNOUNCER: This is the Lew Rockwell Show.
ROCKWELL: Well, it's great to have as our guest this
morning, Dr. Tom Woods. Tom is a senior fellow at the Mises Institute, the
author of 11 books and counting. I can't wait to find out what the next one
is. But many of them New York Times best sellers, Meltdown and Nullification.
We'll link to all of them on this blog. Take a look as well, of course, at
Tom's wonderful archive on LRC. Take a look at his own website, tomwoods.com.
And, Tom, you're sort of going to turn the tables on me today. It was
your idea that you should be interviewing me.
WOODS: Well, I thought that even though you do a lot of
radio and other media and get to ask, or answer a lot of interviewer's
questions, I thought I might have different questions from the ones they
would ask you. And also that an interview that would run on your own site
where long-time readers would be able to access it, might, you know, benefit
from asking questions that they might be curious about, just about you, as a
So, off we go.
WOODS: So I want to start from the beginning. I want to
know what – because you are, first of all, I think, on the podcast, extremely
gracious to all your guests, especially at the end. You sum up all their
contributions and give them effusive praise and thanks. And I know that you
hate being on the receiving end of those things, so I'll try to contain
myself, but just say, you know, we all know that your contributions have been
astonishing. And so we'd be curious to know, how did a guy like you get
started in terms of these ideas? How were you first exposed to them?
ROCKWELL: I think I have to credit my dad, who was an Old
Right Republican. And, in fact, my first political memory is of him pinning a
"Taft for President" button on my coat –
– my winter coat in Boston.
WOODS: Pretty good start though.
ROCKWELL: Yes. So he got me interested in a lot of it. But I
also think there's something to the point Ron Paul always makes. He thinks
that many of us are born Libertarians. And so I can remember very early on,
in school, arguing with one of my teachers. This is long before the '64 Civil
Rights Act, but he was arguing for that sort of a bill. And I can remember
saying – this is in the seventh grade; having a long argument. It just didn't
seem to me right to have the government force business people to have
customers they didn't want to have. Now, whether their motives, the business
peoples' motives were right or not, you know, that was for somebody else to
decide. But that the government should be able to use force to bring about
the social changes it wanted just seemed to be wrong. So I think from a very
early age I just was inclined against government power.
WOODS: Now some people have compared the Ron Paul
phenomenon to Barry Goldwater. Now you supported Goldwater in '64. Did you
work for the campaign in any way, formally or informally?
ROCKWELL: I actually was a Goldwater supporter in 1960, when
it was first mentioned, and I had a bumper sticker on my car. In fact, I
ended up having to have I believe it was 27 bumper stickers because they kept
getting ripped off –
– in Massachusetts, which, of course –
WOODS: It's hard to rip off a bumper sticker.
WOODS: You have to put a lot of effort into that.
ROCKWELL: Or at least ripped part of it off, anyway. And
then in '64, I was a huge Goldwater supporter. I subsequently think
incorrectly. But I did my best to ignore his foreign policy and concentrate
on his domestic policy. He said a lot of very wonderful things. And in his
book, Conscience of a Conservative,
very radical in domestic affairs. Not until Ron Paul have we had anybody
talking about similar things. I actually gave him a total of $500. That's,
you know, for a student –
ROCKWELL: – I mean, that was a huge – and I worked – just
pretty much all I did with my life during the Goldwater – work for the
And partly, that was possible because, in Massachusetts, the entire
Republican Party apparatus took a walk after he was nominated.
ROCKWELL: They wanted nothing to do with it. And so there
were positions available that never would have been available to a kid. So it
was a great experience.
I subsequently have come to think that it was all a trick. Because if
you look at Goldwater's life before and after he ran for president, he was
just, you know, sort of a left liberal Republican. What would we say,
moderate, or Eisenhower Republican. And at the convention, the Taft-Eisenhower
convention, he famously gave a speech saying that we Republicans must not
seek to appeal the New Deal and the Fair Deal; we must accept these as givens
and move on from there and make things better. And certainly, as a Senator,
after he ran, he was a terrible guy. I mean, he was a horrendous militarist.
He always was that. But bad on domestic issues, too.
So I think it was – I don't know. Was it sort of a Bill Buckleyite,
Neo-Con trick the whole business in order – as part of his very brilliantly
conceived and executed plan to destroy the Old Right, the anti-war
Republicans, and just bring everybody into the Cold War, the battle for the
Cold War and perpetual war?
WOODS: Well, your mention of foreign policy provokes a
question in my mind. Are you telling me that, at that time, as early as 1964,
you were already one of these very unusual creatures in the American
political scene, somebody who was very much for limited-to-no government
domestically but who was also critical of U.S. foreign policy? Were you
already at that position?
ROCKWELL: No, no. That would be giving me too much credit.
But I had the whole atomic bomb business bother me. And I thought that
Goldwater was just much too cavalier about the idea of, you know, nuking the
men's room at the Kremlin and that sort of thing. I didn't want to see the
end of the world. And I thought that a nuclear war would – at least might
bring about the end of our civilization, certainly, at the very least, and I
wondered was it, you know, worth it. In those days, you were supposed to be
evil if you didn't, you know, say you were "better red than dead,"
which was a British slogan. That was held up as just the most unimaginable
evil. But, you know, I always thought, well, you know, if you were red, at
least there's hope, there's life, there's change possible. But if everybody's
dead – (laughing) –
ROCKWELL: I didn't think that was really mankind's job to be
ROCKWELL: So, but I was not sophisticated about it. I didn't
question NATO and the whole Cold War apparatus. But, of course, I despised
the Soviets, as we all did. But they were never – of course, I later learned,
obviously, never the threat that they were, even though, internally I guess,
the worst government ever to exist. But internationally, not anything like
the threat. It was all, of course, just another trick.
WOODS: Did you at that time consider yourself a
ROCKWELL: You know, I always considered myself a Libertarian
from very early on. So I considered myself a conservative, I guess, when I
was in high school. And that was the word we all used and, at that point, the
only word we knew. But because of Leonard Read and others, I started calling
myself a Libertarian very early on, because I just disliked parts of the
WOODS: What made you more radical on foreign policy?
ROCKWELL: Well, I think it was the draft. It was the Vietnam
War. Murray Rothbard – economy, Rothbard, later – really sort of filled in
all the blanks and, of course, taught me a vast amount. But it was the war. I
was very active against the Vietnam War. I thought that it was a disaster.
And it wasn't only me. I mean, the Birch Society came out against the Vietnam
War, too. That's why Robert Welch and the Birch Society had their problems.
That's why they were demonized, because they came out against the Vietnam
War. That's when Bill Buckley went after them. The war, of course, being
always the key thing to all conservatives.
So, you know, and Brent Bozell, who had ghost-written Conscience of
a Conservative, also came out against the Vietnam War. And that's when he
was demonized by his brother and by the conservative movement, when he said
that he had come to the conclusion that the Vietnam War was about installing
HEW in Southeast Asia. So – (laughing) – you know, bring in the great society
ROCKWELL: – to the people of Vietnam.
WOODS: There was something to that, I think.
ROCKWELL: No, it was great.
WOODS: That was part of LBJ's view, yes.
ROCKWELL: No, I thought that was a great comment.
ROCKWELL: So, but it was Vietnam.
WOODS: How did you first encounter Murray Rothbard?
ROCKWELL: Well, you know, I had corresponded with Murray and
talked to Murray, but I only met him in the late 1970s through Burt Blumert.
And it was at a party at Billie and Burt Blumert's house in Manhattan. He had
a house there. And that was really when I really got to know Murray well. My
great regret, that I didn't take the opportunity earlier in my life to get to
know him better, but it certainly was a great blessing in my life to be able
to work with him for so many years so closely, to learn so much from him.
And, of course, he was such a great guy, in addition to being a brilliant
intellectual and unbelievably productive. He just was a sweetheart and funny
and just the greatest guy you could have a drink with among many other points
WOODS: You must have become fast friends because you were
very close colleagues after that.
ROCKWELL: Yes. We just became instant friends. I would say
everybody became Murray's instant friend. So he just was that – he had a gift
for friendship among his many other gifts. So I started, first, maybe in the
middle '70s – and of course, read a lot of Rothbard, too, and subscribed to
the Libertarian Forum, but
didn't really get to know him until '79.
WOODS: Now this is, I don't know, maybe an unhappy
subject, but I'd like to ask it anyway. To me – and there are some people who
say that we worship Rothbard and all, or Mises or whatever. And of course,
the last thing Murray or any of the people we admire would have wanted is
that we just take what they said as gospel and not investigate on our own or
always be modifying where modifications are called for. But the point is he
was a great genius. And I think it would be crazy not to admire him, not to
respect his work, to adopt what Joe Salerno calls the Austro-punk position.
But I guess I don't understand why it is that there is such sometimes
stated, sometimes implicit hostility toward Rothbard in some sectors of the
Libertarian movement. We might call it the official Libertarian movement,
where there will be think tanks that will 100 times mention Milton Friedman
for every – I was about to say every one time they mention Rothbard –
– but it's for every zero times. I mean, Rothbard is like a nonentity
except perhaps for purposes of ridicule occasionally. What's the source of
that? Where is that coming from? Isn't that deranged? Where is that coming
ROCKWELL: And of course, they do. They would say we're
worshiping Rothbard, but they actually worship Friedman or somebody else, so.
WOODS: Right (laughing). So what's the difference? Right.
ROCKWELL: Yes. Actually, it's a very interesting point. It
all goes back to the whole struggle with the Koch brothers, the famous Koch
brothers, Charles and David Koch. And when I first started the Mises
Institute, I was friends with the man who was head of the Koch Foundation. I
was very naive and I wrote and I said, I'm starting this institution and
would appreciate their consideration for financial support. And I was given
the extremely angry message back from the Koch folks that I was not to start
the Mises Institute, that it would be extremely damaging, that they had been
working for many years to get rid of Mises, who nobody liked. Even Milton
Friedman didn't like him. And I said, hey, a medal on Mises' chest.
So even Friedman didn't like him. He was a huge drag. And they wanted
to make Hayek the key figure. So to start a Mises Institute, not only would
they not help, but they would actively oppose it. And, indeed, that, of
course, has been the case all these years later. Charles and David are still
very bitter. I don't know why. At one point, Charles was a Rothbardian.
Charles was. I don't know what happened. I don't know why he has, still to
this day, this burning hatred of Murray all these years after Murray's death.
But it's true. And so the people you talk about are all either funded by Koch
entities or would like to be funded by Koch entities. So really that's what
it comes to. It comes to this decades-long hate campaign.
It also goes back to – Murray always said that billionaires don't like
to be told no.
They're used to being told yes by everybody. And they get very upset
when they're told no. And Murray had help found the Cato Institute with
Charles Koch, and named it and was the chief intellectual guru. And then, at
one point, Charles decided that it was best for his, I guess, business
interests or ideological interests or a combination of the two that things
change, and that Austrian economics was really, whether it was true or not,
was a drag, maybe like Mises. But you couldn't get anywhere in Washington if
you were promoting Austrian economics. It needed to be maybe a combination of
the Chicago School and public choice. And so they wanted the first economist
hired by the Cato Institute to be an economist of that sort. But I'll say
he's a great guy. Nothing wrong with him. But Murray thought, well, gee –
(laughing) – this was supposed to be about Austrian economics, this new institute.
So when he opposed Charles' hiring this man, there was just a total blow up.
And there were legal things and they took Murray's stock in the institute and
just set out to marginalize him and destroy him, still to this day. So that's
why it's politically incorrect for people who work for these think tanks to
do anything but marginalize him. And you hear reports all the time about,
like their summer programs, where they'll have denunciations of Rothbard.
WOODS: It's crazy. I mean, it's like the opposite of –
it's like a cult of anti-Rothbard, really.
ROCKWELL: Yes. It's –
WOODS: Like you have to have the anti-Rothbard to be
initiated into it.
ROCKWELL: No, and their academic programs seem to be about
making sure that nobody likes Rothbard. You can be an anarchist; that's fine.
But you can't be a –
WOODS: You can't be a Rothbardian type.
ROCKWELL: No, no. That's still very, very politically
WOODS: Yes. And, of course, as you've told me before, the
worst thing strategically you can do is tell young people don't read this
Because what do you think they're going to go do, right?
WOODS: And what's the most popular Libertarian T-shirt
now? The Mises Institute's "Enemy of the State" Rothbard silhouette
shirt, right? I mean, everybody wants to wear that thing.
ROCKWELL: No, and, of course, Murray far better known, far
more influential today because of the Internet than he ever was during his
lifetime. So their attempt to marginalize him just hasn't worked. And, of course,
he just still springs off the page at you. When you just open anything he's
written, you just say, holy smokes.
ROCKWELL: And then you just want to read more. So that
power, his power, his intellectual power, his power as a writer have overcome
all these lobbying efforts against him.
WOODS: Now, I wasn't sure we were going to mention the
Koch brothers, but as long as we have, where do you think the left is right
about the Koch brothers and where are they wrong?
ROCKWELL: Well, of course, the left many times went to
jokers. So, they seem to accept the Kochs' ideological rational. It's like
thinking you can interpret John D. Rockefeller by liberal Protestantism, or
George Soros by left liberalism. These are just covers for these oligarchs.
And they all need an illogical cover. So in the Koch's case, it's the free
market. But the idea that these guys are actually promoting the free market
or actually seeking to limit government, except in ways that might benefit
their own companies, is just, of course, crazy. So the left is wrong to take
them seriously ideologically. They are right that they're very, very
powerful, that they are the key donors to the Republican Party, open and
confidential, ever since really the early 1990s. They're very, very powerful
figures. And they're worth scrutiny. If they're getting – you know, whether
they're giving themselves contracts in the Iraq war or whatever, these things
are worth looking at. And just like George Soros is worth looking at, so are
the Kochs. So the left, you know, mostly gets it wrong but not entirely
WOODS: Now, of course, you worked for Ron Paul for some
time. I want to get back to that. But before then, you had already been
engaged in some liberty sort of work, like with Arlington House Publishers
and other things of that sort, isn't that right?
ROCKWELL: Yes. I had the great honor to work – I always
wanted to work as a book – two goals I had in my – it seems slightly silly
now, in one sense. I wanted to be a book editor. I loved publishing. And I
wanted to be a congressional aide. So thank goodness I worked for Ron Paul –
WOODS: Yes, right.
ROCKWELL: – rather than somebody else. So I had just a
tremendous time at Arlington House. This was the only publisher of its kind,
founded by the great Neil McCaffrey, to publish Libertarian and conservative
books, too. And I just had tremendous experiences there, one of which was
Neil calling me to his office one day and saying, I'd like you to be Ludwig
von Mises' editor.
WOODS: Well, if I have to, I have to.
ROCKWELL: So, you know, I was just a kid. And so that's how
I got to meet Mises. We were just bringing back into print three of his
books, Omnipotent Government, Bureaucracy, Theory and History, and
then published what was then the end publish, The Historical Setting of the Austrian
And I can remember still – I can still remember, it feels like
yesterday, opening this brown envelope from Mises, and out comes this
unpublished manuscript by Mises, and I thought, holy smokes.
WOODS: I know.
ROCKWELL: So it was a tremendous experience. I got to known
Margit von Mises then, too. And got once to have dinner with them. And got to
know Margit much better in later years. That was the only time I ever met
Mises in person but, of course, it was a tremendous, tremendous experience.
Very dignified, warm. A gentleman that, Murray always said, represented an
older and a better world. And, boy, the truth. Just his manner, his dress,
his dignity, and yet his warmth. He was something.
WOODS: Margit von Mises played a role in the Mises
Institute at the start, isn't that right?
ROCKWELL: She did. And she was what Murray once dubbed a
one-woman Mises industry. But after his death, she dedicated herself to try
and make sure everything was in print, translated, and she just was
tremendous. And so when I decided that Mises, the man, was not getting the
attention – we all need heroes. These ideas are essential. But they have to
be, in terms of teaching, I think, inculcated in great men. So I thought it
was important that Mises be recognized for the hero he was. Also, the
Austrian School was in decline and I thought there needs to be an institute
dedicated to this. And so I approached Mrs. Mises first, even before Murray
Rothbard, and asked her if she would be part of it, and she said she would.
She said – and she started sort of shaking her finger at me, and she said,
now, I know you're only interested in my name. And I said, well, I am
interested in your name –
– but I'm also interested in your advice and guidance.
WOODS: Yes. Sure. Yes.
ROCKWELL: Which she did give. And so she said she would, as
long as I agreed that I would dedicate the rest of my life to it. So I gave
her that promise. So she was our first chairman.
Then I went to Murray Rothbard and he actually, literally, clapped his
hand in glee –
– at the idea there was going to be a Mises Institute. Of course, he
said, I'll do everything. So it was wonderful to – what a thrill to be able
to work with those two people. Again, just a blessing.
WOODS: Well, you know, you and I have recently reread an
old Rothbard interview from 1990. And one of the lines in there is that he
says, "Without the founding of the Mises Institute, I am convinced the
whole Misesian program would have collapsed."
Now when you started the Mises Institute, maybe you had more modest
goals than that. What did you have in mind? What did you imagine yourself
doing? In the best scenario, what was the Mises Institute going to
ROCKWELL: Just reviving or rather making sure that the
Austrian School didn't disappear. I was concerned that it was going to
disappear and that Mises was becoming unknown. So it was just those twin
goals of – I think it's turned out much better than I thought it was going to
all those years ago. But generally, it's done what I wish, is to make sure
all Mises' books are available in inexpensive editions, that scholars in the
Austrian School would be encouraged, graduate students supported,
publications of all sorts, both scholarly and popular, to try to spread the
word. Because, of course, it was always Mises' view and, of course,
Rothbard's, too, that economics was too important to be left to the
economists and that everybody had to be brought in. So I think that's
WOODS: Well, it's a two-fold or three-fold or four-fold
strategy because it's not just publishing the books, but it's also building
up an infrastructure for students who are in this tradition, whereby, they
can be supported both in terms of moral support, and maybe help them find
jobs because they've got connections because they met Professor So and So at
a Mises Institute conference. And I think the idea was also to influence
economics department, to actually change economics department little by
little so that – where we are today. But now, an Austrian going on the job
market is no longer radioactive.
WOODS: Now there's an interest in it, and the Mises
Institute played an indispensible role in this. Nobody else was doing that.
And now, suddenly, that's become – we're living in a world that you couldn't
have imagined, I think, in the early days.
ROCKWELL: No, it's true. And there's far more openness. We
don't have – obviously, the commanding heights of the profession are still
Paul Krugmanians and et cetera.
ROCKWELL: But, yes, among younger professors, we've made
just unbelievable progress. And the further down you go in terms of age, the
more and more people who are interested. Of course, this is a very powerful
school of thought. And also, it's very radical. And also, people like the
fact that it's against the regime.
ROCKWELL: I mean, smart kids know they're in trouble;
troubles they're facing and the troubles that the whole world is facing. They
know changes have to be made, so they're ready for a radical – rather than a
radical relook, rather than the lies that typically the senior professors are
WOODS: Now I'll just interject as someone who has had
some connection to the institute since 1993. What I've seen – and we talked
about this at lunch the other day. 1993, I went to the week-long Mises
University program, which just got me on the path that I'm on now more than
anything else I did in my whole academic career. And I met a lot of really
bright young kids, and we were all learning this stuff together.
But today, you go to Mises University, and, sure, there are a lot of
bright young kids who don't know that much about this Austrian School but
they're intrigued and they want to know more, but what you also see, which we
didn't have so much of before, is a lot of young kids who already know a lot
of this stuff because they've been reading it on Mises.org, or Ron Paul has
recommended certain books, and they've read those and they've read the books
that those books recommended. They come in here knowing so much that, when it
comes time for the optional oral exam, we've had students come in – where
there was one student where, I think it was Walter Block, said to him, you
should be sitting on our side of the table asking the questions with us.
I mean, this is really encouraging. We've got some sharp – we've got
some geniuses coming down the road, who the establishment is going to have a
really hard time dealing with, because they are energetic, they love smashing
myths, and we've got YouTube. This is an explosive combination.
ROCKWELL: Well, it's tremendous. And, of course, the
Internet is what made the difference. I can remember, in the old days, you
were just thrilled if somebody discovered you. And, of course, we had to do
direct mail and, you know –
WOODS: Oh, what a task!
ROCKWELL: – and we tried different – it was much more, much
more difficult. So the Internet made it possible.
And, of course, this is not only a burgeoning movement in this country
but maybe even more so overseas. In Europe and Latin America and Asia, it's
just blossoming like I'm sure never has been the case in the entire history
of the Austrian School. So I think there are very, very bright days ahead.
WOODS: There must be somewhere in the neighborhood of a
dozen Mises Institutes in countries around the world. And I haven't kept
track of how many there are, but these are not satellites of the American
Mises Institute that you established. These were created spontaneously by
people who came to you and said, hey, we want to have a Mises Institute in
Brazil, or we want to have – you know, could you come to our kick-off event.
And, in fact, you and I did – as a matter of fact, I suppose I didn't pick
Brazil at random. We went to the kick-off event –
WOODS: – last year. And I'm sure you were as surprised as
I was that we had hundreds of young – I mean, this was a young audience.
Hundreds of young kids spent their weekend listening to English speakers come
talk to them about Austrian economics. And they had read our stuff. Even in
English, they had read our stuff. They knew who we were. This is great. They
were fascinated by this stuff. There's no way you could have predicted
something like this.
But let me just say though, I do want to say something about Ron Paul.
Now, what was the exact capacity that you worked for him in, and what years
are we talking?
ROCKWELL: I first met Ron in 1975. We were both speaking at
a Libertarian conference in Miami, Beach. And I was very impressed by him.
And I had had a background in medical economics, a magazine that I had
edited. Medical Economics is a magazine. This was a magazine called Private
Practice, but devoted to the economics of the medical care, especially
state intervention into medical care. So because Ron was a doctor, that was
sort of our connection.
And so when he was elected to Congress – he had already been in there
once, then defeated. And he was elected the next time, he asked me to come
and be his chief of staff. And I just found out last year that the impetus
for that was Leonard Read. Leonard Read had called him and said, hey, you
know, here's the guy you need. So that was very sweet. I never knew that
Leonard had done that.
WOODS: Well, just for the newbies here, Leonard Read
founded the Foundation for Economic Education. So he's a big, big name.
That's quite an endorsement to get. Yes.
ROCKWELL: So that was very, very sweet.
So I helped Ron organize the office. And I was there just a short
time, from 1979 to 1982. And I loved working for Ron. He's – what you see is
what you get. I mean, he really is the same in private as he is in public.
And just so many wonderful things. Somebody called him a Reagan Republican. I
remember, for example, the only contact Reagan ever had with him when Reagan
was president was to call him and twist his arm or attempt to twist his arm
to get him to support some horrible new murder machine, the B1 or the B2 or
the B17 or something, but he wouldn't do it. And just, you know, no matter
who was trying to get him to do something wrong, he wouldn't do it. So that
was universal. I mean, that was Ron Paul's every day. So it was just tremendous.
I eventually got to the point where it was slightly difficult for me
to work for the government, even though it was Ron. And I kept telling
myself, well, you know, the House is not as bad as the presidency.
ROCKWELL: But it was a tremendous experience working for
WOODS: Do you have any illustrative stories from those
years that you've never told that just illustrate who he is or just things
that happened or just anything that stands our in your mind?
ROCKWELL: Well, there actually could be a million. But I
remember the first time I went to the district, and there was a big
reception, and the port commissioners from the local port came over to talk
to me. And they said, we just love Ron Paul. Were so glad he's
our congressman, you know. He's exactly right. The budget is going crazy with
runaway spending and that kind of thing. But they said, you know, we need
funding to dredge the port. And we need federal funding for this, so would
you please talk to him about that (laughing). Of course, he wouldn't do it.
And he told the same thing to them. I mean, he just is very straight with
people, I mean, if they're asking for farm subsidies or, in this case, port
subsidies or any of that sort of thing that he thought was unconstitutionally
and morally and economically wrong, too, he would say no. But he had such a
facility, such a friendly sweet man, such a gentleman that people didn't hate
him afterwards. I mean, it was quite – you know, this is an odd way to praise
Ron Paul. He's an unbelievable politician. I mean, really being a politician
is – I'd like to think that those skills could be used in other parts of life
– but it's part of the division of labor. He loves campaigning. He loves
talking to people. He loves persuading people. And he loves building
coalitions and all that sort of thing. So he just was very, very good.
But I can't tell you how many times people would come to him and try
to pressure him. They want some special deal, some – and of course, this was
true in the House, too. They didn't really know how to deal with him.
I remember when the first Reagan budget came up, that we later found
out from Manuel Johnson, who had been a high Treasury official at that time,
that they had sent a balanced budget to the White House and the White House
had sent it back requesting a deficit. They wanted a $100 billion deficit.
Big money in those days.
WOODS: Yes. Sure.
ROCKWELL: And so there was huge pressure on the Republicans
to vote for this. Unbelievable pressure. And Ron, you know, wouldn't do it.
He was the only one who wouldn't. And they promised them that this would be
the only time you'll ever have to vote for a budget deficit. Just vote for
this budget. And that's what they said.
WOODS: And then everything will be different in the
ROCKWELL: Yes, Reagan's going to fix it in the future. Well,
of course, Reagan, Mr. Deficit, Mr. Big Government, Mr. High Spending and so
But it got to the point where there was an incident during – when Newt
Gingrich was speaker and he's lecturing everybody in the Republican
conference and putting on what the British call a three-line whip. That is,
you must vote for this particular, again, a budget. And he said, you must do
it. I'm going to kill anybody in here who doesn't vote and so forth. He was
very nasty. And he said, of course, except Ron Paul.
WOODS: Because he knew it was just impossible.
ROCKWELL: Right. He knew that it couldn't happen. So Ron, an
And I would say, you know, the phrase "role model" is used
pretty lightly but he inspires people. And I think that's why he touches
people's hearts and minds in the way he does, because not only has he got the
right ideas, but he's lived the right ideas for so long, ever since he first
thought of running for office when Nixon put price and wage controls and
closed the gold window. So it was a great experience to work for Ron Paul.
WOODS: Well, I would have to say, in terms of role models
– and you're going to hate this – but I want to just take this opportunity to
thank you, not just for what you've done for mankind, which is great – you
know, the Mises Institute, Mises.org, getting these ideas to so many more
people than we ever thought would be able to receive them. But also I think
back to, what, for me anyway, because I'm a softie and pretty, at least at
that time, fairly thinned skinned, it was a very difficult time when The Politically Incorrect Guide to
American History came out and I was really being
hit hard by some, you know, newspapers and some bad guys and Neo-Cons – I
repeat myself. And, you know, you stuck by me through the whole thing. I
mean, you promoted me. There is no one who has done more to promote me and
the work I've been doing than you. And I'm extremely grateful for that and I
always will be. I always describe you as my greatest benefactor.
And I want to say, really, I mean, the courage that it takes to start
up something like the Mises Institute, with no guarantee of success, and,
indeed, with the array of forces stacked against you that were stacked
against you, it's just nothing short of a miracle that you've been able to
accomplish this. So on behalf of all of us who have benefited from reading
LRC and benefited from the Mises Institute, I want to say thank you.
And I want to tell people that when I recently came up with a list, a
short list of books that I think, if you really want to quickly, a
fast-track, to get these ideas under your belt, one of the books I
recommended was your book, The Left, the Right, and the State.
Because you have not only been a benefactor to me, but you've also helped me
think issues through much more clearly. I mean, I still clung to some statist
superstitions that I didn't even realize until – but I read your blog.
And I also want to make sure people are reading your Political Theater
blog*, which is linked on your main site and from your LewRockwell.com/blog.
You've got to read the Political Theater blog. This is indispensible. I smile
and laugh at this thing every day because of Lew's headlines for the posts
(laughing). Because if you can't laugh at politics, what's it good for?
Anyway, Lew, thank you so much for agreeing to be a guest on your own
ROCKWELL: Well, Tom, thank you. And I just want to add that
you were clearly a star to all of us when you were here as an undergraduate
for the first time. And I expected great things from you and so did others.
And none of us have been disappointed. So it's just a thrill what you have done,
all the people that you have taught, all the great books you've written, all
the great books you will write, the speeches you give. I'm sure everybody's
seen your YouTubes, most recently the one about the appeal to people in Iowa
about Ron Paul. We always put them up on LRC.
And, Tom, it's great to have you writing for the site, for all you do
for the Mises Institute, all you do for the cause of freedom. Thanks for
writing the Politically Incorrect Guide to American History, too, one
of your great books.
WOODS: Thank you, Lew.
ANNOUNCER: You've been listening to the Lew Rockwell Show,
produced by LewRockwell.com, the best-read Libertarian website in the world,
and thanks for listening.
*The Political Theater blog was only used during the election and is
no longer functional.
Podcast date, August 2, 2011