Thursday, May 12, 2011

Still Rand Paul

Almost one year ago- May 21, 2010- to this day, U.S. Senate candidate Rand Paul (R-Ky) asked "When does my honeymoon period start?"

It started once he was elected, and it should stop now.

On May 19, Paul in an interview with NPR had signaled discontent with the 1964 Civil Rights Act. In an interview later that day with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, Paul equated private discrimination with freedom of speech, complaining

Should we limit racists from speaking. I don't want to be associated with those people, but I also don't want to limit their speech in any way in the sense that we tolerate boorish and uncivilized behavior because that's one of the things that freedom requires is that we allow people to be boorish and uncivilized, but that doesn't mean we approve of it...

Believing that private business owners should be able to limit the provision of goods and services to whomever they wish does not qualify an individual as a racist. A supporter of discrimination, yes; racist, no. Now a United States Senator, Paul is not necessarily a racist. Racist, not necessarily; insensitive, simplistic, and appalling, yes.

Think Progress (its video, below) reports that Paul commented at a recent Senate Health, Education, and Labor Committee hearing

With regard to the idea of whether you have a right to health care, you have realize what that implies. It’s not an abstraction. I’m a physician. That means you have a right to come to my house and conscript me. 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.

Basically, once you imply a belief in a right to someone’s services — do you have a right to plumbing? Do you have a right to water? Do you have right to food? — you’re basically saying you believe in slavery.

I’m a physician in your community and you say you have a right to health care. You have a right to beat down my door with the police, escort me away and force me to take care of you? That’s ultimately what the right to free health care would be.

In 2008, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, "physicians practicing primary care had total median annual compensation of $186,044" while doctors practicing a specialty earned a lot more. (Compensation appears to have changed little since then.) Not nearly as much as the bank and oil industry executives championed by Paul and most of his Repub colleagues, to be sure; but still a good buck. Were I as callous as the Kentucky senator, I would suggest that if that's slavery, then..... But slavery, in any circumstance, would be fairly terrible, as Paul seems unaware of.

"Slavery" is more a generic term than "holocaust" and still exists in the world, according to the U.S. State Department, in the form of forced labor, sex trafficking, bonded labor, debt bondage, involuntary domestic servitude, forced child labor, child soldiers, and child sex trafficking.

In this country, "slavery" always brings to mind a unique institution of human exploitation over which America's most tragic war was fought. Suggesting that a "right to health care" is akin to such a monstrosity is reprehensible. And Americans currently do have a right to health care- the emergency room system, expensive, inefficient, and inadequate. Implying the Affordable Care Act creates free health care out of whole cloth is ignorant- or deceptive.

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