Friday, May 13, 2011

Rand Paul Knows The Appropriate Comparison

I've told plenty of people that as nuts as he is, I actually agree with Rand Paul's positions on more stuff that 90% of the Republicans, and probably more some of the Douche Caucus Democrats as well (Stopping aid to Israel, fed transparency, drug legalization. With that said, holy fuck he is out of his mind: (via awesome Kentucky blog Barefoot and Progressive)

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 fairness, saying people have a right to healthcare is basically slavery when you think about it.



  2. don't all military personnel have free access to health care through the VA? our military is pro-slavery? You have opened my eyes rand paul.

  3. Do I have a right to elected representation in congress? Congressmen are already my slaves? Awesome, that will save me SOOO much money next election cycle.

  4. All of the people mentioned above are government employees. There is a big difference between treating a government owned and operated good or service as a right and a privately owned and operated good or service as a right.

    This issue hits close to home for me, and one of the reasons I want to do Emergency Medicine is that I will never have to worry about whether someone can pay for my services. But from a policy standpoint, you can't just wish something was less complicated than it is because it would be nice. Treating a private good as a public right is a huge economic problem, even if it is ethically the right thing to do in this situation. And I don't think calling someone crazy for pointing that out helps anything.

  5. @Luke:why can't you wish for that? I would like to go ahead and wish for that. and for all of all the things I wish were simpler because it would nice.

    and we aren't calling him crazy for for making that point. we are calling him crazy for what he compared it to. you must admit that comparing that to SLAVERY. especially in this country is a bit hyperbolic and unnecessary don't you think? When rand paul decides to speak reasonably about this issue then I will not mock him for it.

  6. Last summer, I stayed in the hotel in Clarksdale, Mississippi where the blues singer Bessie Smith died after getting into a car crash. She died because they'd taken her to a whites-only hospital first, who had refused to provide medical treatment. Now the law forbids hospitals from refusing treatment on grounds of race. Rand Paul is saying that laws like that are the same thing as SLAVERY.

    C'mon, if that's not fucking crazy, then nothing is.

  7. @anon: I do wish that everybody could receive the health care of their preference without unreasonable sacrifice.

    @anon & 6.54: I think his comparison of this issue to slavery was insensitive, not crazy. It is insensitive because of the connotations the term slavery carries with it in the US.

    Mention the word slavery and immediately we all think of the use of slave African labor in America, the Civil War, segregation, and the civil rights movements. But slavery was not invented by Americans and the word has its own definition.

    Slavery is when a person does not get to choose when, where, or how he labors and/or does not get to keep the fruits of his labor.

    “Never ascribe to an opponent motives meaner than your own.” That is why I took his words this way. I don't think he was trying to say "well if you believe in universal healthcare then you believe we should still have slaves working on cotton plantations."

    I would like to think he was trying to say, "under the current circumstances, a 'right to health care' (and lets remember that right now in the US health care is a good/service rendered by a private individual) imposes an unreasonable amount of coercion on the people who work in the health care field."

    PS. I am not a Rand Paul apologetic or supporter.

  8. I appreciate the distinction. Rand's implicit definition of slavery, which you made explicit, is a big part of why I think his statement is insane.

    Under that definition, all laws are slavery. Taxes are slavery. The draft is slavery. Fuck, even jobs and relationships are slavery. Rand appears to have no sensitivity to the shades of meaning in these different circumstances, most of which are much more easily comparable to slavery than universal health care.

    Here's the difference:

    If Doctors and hospital administrators and janitors and anyone else in the medical industry doesn't like the idea of universal health care, they are free to do whatever else they want to do. Slaves do not have this freedom. Period.

    As I work for a medical school, I'm sensitive of the need to protect certain aspects of the ways in which doctors live and work. Certainly, doctors have the same desires and free will as the rest of us and should be given latitude to live their lives how they want. And there may be consequences for their lifestyles under certain iterations of legislation that views healthcare as a human right.

    But bear in mind that universal healthcare is already the bedrock of the medical profession: you'd be hard-pressed to find a doctor in the country who would refuse to treat a patient in need. Work in free (or nearly free) clinics is already a condition of employment in many hospitals, and a part of student doctors' medical education. The recent talk about the right to healthcare in congress is basically a funding dispute, not an argument about massively changing the way that medicine is practiced.

    Comparing uncertain and likely inconsequential changes in lifestyle to slavery so vastly overstates the issue that it's inane, condescending, totally incoherent, offensively ignorant and more than a little desperate... so, to put it more succinctly, crazy.

  9. Which actually takes us back to the heart of JJ's post:

    Sometimes Rand Paul champions some issues that need to be championed and that no one else cares about. Sure would be great if he wasn't so fuckin crazy.

  10. aqua bhudda!

  11. Ok, so I think it would be awesome to bounce some ideas around about whether it would change how medicine is fundamentally practiced, but for now I want to respond to the language Paul used because that is what I wanted to talk to you guys about when I read this post at first.

    I think everybody has a threshold, a certain point where they think that too much has been taken from them or coerced from them.

    I remember having a conversation with my father about his taxes, and based on the percentage he paid, he looked at it as having to work almost until June before he got to keep a dime for himself. Now he didn't use the word "slavery" either but his level of frustration was very high and I could tell he had had enough.

    You can't help when you've had enough of something and that seems to be where Paul and many others are. I think that calling someone crazy because of that is counterproductive to the debate. Now you could come right back and say that his use of that word, especially in the US, was counterproductive as well, as this whole post illustrates, and that would be true.

    I'd rather see the buck stop here though. I like this blog because you guys care, have good ideals, and are active in the political process. You have a chance to do good things, and I want you to succeed. I feel like the word crazy gets thrown around a lot here, though, and I don't think you are doing yourselves any favors by using it. For the most part, your political opponents (i am talking average folks, too, not just politicians) aren't crazy, they are just fed up and have lost faith in the government. You can't blame them for that.

    You can't work with people you aren't even attempting to understand. As much as you would like to, you can't just pretend they don't exist either, which I know has been suggested here, too. Majorities never last forever.

    So maybe you have a different threshold for when you would use a word like slavery. I do, too. For you it would be all those things you listed. For him maybe it is not.

  12. This has come up before on this blog, so I'll roughly repeat what I've said in the past.

    For what it's worth, I never called Rand Paul crazy, I called what he said crazy. And I do regularly read conservative commentators. I have particular respect for Andrew Sullivan, and find his arguments challenging and argumentatively worthwhile even when I disagree with him (which is often). I think he's smart and – and this is the key point here - honestly engages in debate over policy issues.

    But I have no interest in pretending that Rand Paul or Michelle Bachman or Newt Gingrich make their arguments in good faith. They just don't. Their ideas are literally incoherent most of the time, in the "get the government out of my medicare" sense. They have no respect for facts and history, and an explicit disrespect for Americans who aren't white, male and wealthy. (For this reason, I doubt that particular brand of American politics will survive our generation).

    In this particular case, I'd certainly agree that using a word like slavery to describe a small change in medical funding policy builds up the illusion of a threshold being crossed in the minds of Paul's supporters. In fact, that's the whole reason he said it. But his immediate jump to such rank hyperbole is only another reason to write him off as just another disingenuous politician with no real interest in seriously debating about the public good.

    If I took him seriously, I would indeed think him either stupid or crazy. In fact, I think he's just disingenuous. His goal is to create conflict and worsen the impression of an ever-growing monolithic government, when in fact decades of cuts have shrunk the government below the size it needs to be to do the very basic jobs we ask it to do.

    Now, does that mean I hate all forms of libertarianism? Certainly not: I was something of an anarchist in high school, and could (mostly) seriously write up some decent arguments about how civilization is a form of slavery in a much more meaningful sense than what Paul is talking about. But really, what are we trying to do here? Get to the bottom of the nature of government and societal norms and the organization of civilized life? Or solve a budget dispute?

    We're trying to solve a budget dispute. Bringing up slavery here is a non sequitur – and an offensive one, at that.

    Sure, in general I very much agree with certain tenets of libertarianism: I hate the TSA, think we need to end the drug war, and am terrified by the degree of classification that the government now practices.

    But there are enormous societal problems that the private sector has (or had) failed to solve for centuries. There were literally elderly people starving in the streets during the great depression, before the creation of social security. I've never seen any libertarian argument for why this would not happen again, if we abolished it.

    Most politically influential libertarians, and Rand Paul is no exception, are simply uninterested in these problems. This is because most major libertarians were made rich as shit by a system that massively favored them during their accumulation of wealth, and want to keep that deeply unfair system in place.

    I don't respect that level of selfishness. I'm sorry if you now think that I'm an asshole, but I have no interest in the arguments of people who think their taxes are too high but don't understand where the money goes.

    So here's the deal: when the Rand Pauls of the world show me how the math works out with cutting government services – when they can demonstrate that it won't erode the middle class, destroy the healthcare system, and relegate America to the status of a scientific and cultural backwater – I'll start engaging with them. They haven't done that yet, so I don't. So far they're just saying crazy things.

  13. Thank you for continuing to respond to me, I appreciate it!

    I feel like I have a good understanding of where you are coming from now. My last question would be, what do you think his motivations are? I think that is the crux of the issue here, as far as whether you feel you could ever enter a meaningful dialog with someone like Paul.

    Do his "crazy" proclamations come from the sort of idealism that you would expect from a public servant? Even if the ideals he holds are not completely compatible with your own, that is at least something to be respected, even when it comes out sounding crazy to you.

    Or are his motives more sinister? Is he trying to manipulate the public or something similarly devious? And if so, to what end? Obviously there is no room for discussion with someone like this, and I think these people need to be actively rooted out and removed from office.

    Your use of the word disingenuous and some of the other things you said makes me think that you are of a mind that he falls in the latter category. Yet I feel like the only reason you are lumping him in that category is because you find it particularly hard to follow his reasoning in this situation. And by that I mean that you can't fathom how he can be coming to such a wildly different conclusion than your own given the same starting point unless his motivations are suspect (or he is crazy).

    However, everything else you have told me about his stances, especially ending the war on drugs, just screams of someone basing his actions on a particular and consistent set of principles. After all, no one has ever successfully rallied the republican base with a "legalize drugs!" battle cry. Thats why I don't think he is trying to do that now either with this slavery business. It just isn't consistent.

    It looks to me as if his words reflected an honest opinion that rose out of the set of principles he lives by.