John Stossel

Over the last few months, I've received hundreds of e-mails from people asking me to interview Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul, so I did.

It's refreshing to interview a politician who doesn't mince words. It's even more refreshing to interview one who understands the benefits of limited government.

Here, then, is the first in a series of columns on my talk with Ron Paul. Some of Paul's answers are shortened.

What should government do?

Ron Paul: Protect our freedoms. Have a strong national defense. Look at and take care of our borders. Have a sound currency. That was the responsibility of the federal government, not to run our lives and run everything in the economy and extend the interstate-commerce clause and the general-welfare clause to do anything they want to do.

So defense, the military, police forces enforce contracts, and that's about it?

That's it. We would have a court system to enforce contracts, and when people do harm to others, when they take property or injure property, or pollute a neighbor's air, I think there's a role for government to protect our environment through private-property rights.

So keep us safe, enforce contracts, run the courts, pollution rules and otherwise butt out? Leave us alone?

Basically that, which would mean if I'm elected, I should immediately take a pay cut. You know, because I wouldn't have so much to do.

The Department of Education. You'd get rid of it?

Yes. We don't need it.

How will people get educated?

We might get better education. The evidence shows, since the 1950s, since the federal government's gotten involved, the quality of education has gone down, and the cost has gone up.

The federal government should have no role?

There's no authority for it, and they've proved themselves inefficient. The one city they're totally in charge of is Washington, D.C. Thirteen thousand dollars a year per student. They have more guns, more drugs, more violence. So there's no evidence that the government can do a very good job.

The Department of Energy.

We don't need a Department of Energy. It serves the interests of big business.

Other cabinet departments? Department of Agriculture, Commerce, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development. You'd get rid of all of them?

Yeah. Of course, that's not on the immediate agenda, but they're unnecessary, and we should think about what kind of a country we would have without these departments, and I think we would have a better country, and all those problems that they're supposed to solve, I think, would be lessened.

John Stossel

John Stossel is host of "Stossel" on the Fox Business Network. He's the author of "No They Can't: Why Government Fails, but Individuals Succeed." To find out more about John Stossel, visit his site at > To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at ©Creators Syndicate