Rand Paul on slavery

Found this gem via Matt Taibbi: “With an absolutely straight face, Rand Paul compares public health care to slavery. He says that if everyone has a right to health care, that means that people can come to his office – Rand is a doctor, after all – and “conscript” him to provide service.”

Keep in mind that this is not a fringe lunatic on late night radio. That is a United States Senator, in his full formal capacity. As usual, Bernie Sanders is brilliant and salvages a bit of our national dignity.

Paul’s statement is a great example of the sort of self serving whining that has taken hold of large swathes of the conservative party in the US. It takes a very special combination of ignorance, selfishness, and belligerence for an upper class white doctor, a member of the majority race and avowedly part of the majority religion, one with a family legacy of national political office, to claim that he is afraid of being ‘enslaved.’ That’s a serious allegation – that the government might go back on more than a hundred years of a fairly strict ‘no-slavery’ policy.

Of course, Paul knows better. He knows full well that this debate is not about slavery. The hearing where he was sitting was, in fact, about is a set of government programs that provide health care to people who can’t afford it. Paul is deeply opposed to many such programs. Taken as a whole, he doesn’t seem to want us to have much of a country at all.

It’s disingenuous and insulting for him to express his supposed fears of the manacles and the whip in the context of the health care debate. It’s a cheap trick of misdirection and emotional manipulation.

For what it’s worth, I agree with him on the terminology: “Right” is a poor choice of word. I would prefer to state most of these things as “obligations” placed on those of us who fortunate enough to have our heads above water. An ‘obligation’ puts the onus of action where it should be. People may have ‘rights’ to life and liberty, but the rest of us can remain idle until those rights are cast into active requirements that we help the starving, clothe the naked, and so on. There is no ‘right’ to health care, but there damn well ought to be a social obligation to help the less fortunate – and that is what the health care debate is all about.

At best, Dr. Paul should be ashamed of himself for splitting rhetorical hairs during an argument about basic social services in his area of professional expertise. He brought up both Hippocrates and Jesus in his little speech – and I think that either would be ashamed to be associated with him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.