In a National Review profile focused on his past life as an ophthalmologist and all of the pro-bono work performed over the years, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) offered yet another peculiar view of the government’s responsibility to its most impoverished citizens. When asked of his view on health care in light of the wide array of free operations he’s done in his career — estimated at more than 100 — Paul offered an analogy that essentially placed food stamps on par with slavery. Though that is not especially surprising giving the GOP’s penchant for playing down how slavery really works, it’s frustrating all the same.
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Paul explained, “As humans, yeah, we do have an obligation to give people water, to give people food, to give people health care, but it’s not a right because once you conscript people and say, ‘Oh, it’s a right,’ then really you’re in charge. It’s servitude. You’re in charge of me and I’m supposed to do whatever you tell me to do.”
By Paul’s logic, if I find myself waiting for one or four checks and someone pays for my drinks at happy hour, they are my new master. I already ran this by a friend and she’s since offered her services, noting that in turn she will order me to twerk on command. Think Beyoncé, not Miley Cyrus.
Seriously, though, Paul has a knack for hyperbole and comparing various government-provided services to slavery. In 2011, Paul said that when one believes in a right to health care, “It means you believe in slavery. It means that you’re going to enslave not only me, but the janitor at my hospital, the person who cleans my office, the assistants who work in my office, the nurses.”
So he more or less remixed this notion in the National Review story, only this time those wretched poor folks are giving farmers the blues. After all, “You don’t have a right to anyone else’s labor. Food’s pretty important; do you have a right to the labor of the farmer?”
But as Zack Beauchamp of Think Progress explains, ” In a democratic-capitalist economy, people have a right to choose their career and, as it turns out, enough people end up being farmers that there’s generally enough food to go around.” People are being fed and the food that is provided to them has been paid for. How exactly is that slavery?
There’s so much cognitive dissonance prevalent in Paul’s commentary.
He’s so concerned about the government telling people what to do as it relates to health care and other government programs that he’s against abortion and marriage equality. Likewise, he’s so torn up about the prospect of the government paying farmers for food to help feed the poorest of the poor that he calls it “slavery,” but somewhere along the way he neglected to note that by his own definition, corporations are enslaved by the American citizens who help subsidize them with our tax dollars. And really, aren’t those multinational, tax evading, greedy, personhood-claiming corporations so good to Massa?
I’d also love to ask Rand Paul, who is denied by Senate rules to continue working as a doctor despite his petitions to do so, if he were allowed to continue his second job, would he refuse any Medicaid and Medicare monies? Follow up question would be whether or not he did before he became a senator? Bonus round: Is he Rand Paul Unchained?
Michael Arceneaux is a Houston-bred, Howard-educated writer. You can read more of his work on his site, The Cynical Ones. Follow him on Twitter: @youngsinick
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