Rand Paul’s Ridiculous Slavery Analogy

Earlier this week, Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who I normally have a pretty decent amount of respect for considering he’s a Senator, took a little trip into rhetorical fantasy land when he tried to analogize universal health care to slavery:

Rand Paul, the freshman senator from Kentucky, was speaking recently about healthcare, specifically the new healthcare law some refer to as “Obamacare.”  Like many Republicans, Paul, the son of Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), doesn’t like it. Unlike many conservatives, the “tea party” darling doesn’t like the law  because it reminds him of slavery.

“With regard to the idea of whether you have a right to healthcare, you have to 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,” Paul said recently in a Senate subcommittee hearing.

“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,” Paul said, adding that there is “an implied use of force.”

“If I’m a physician in your community and you say you have a right to healthcare, 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 healthcare would be,” Paul said.

Here’s the video:

Over at Salon, Alex Pardee wonders if Paul also believes that lawyers are slaves since the Constitution provides that each person accused of a crime has a right to counsel. But it’s Matt Welch over at Reason, a libertarian haven, that has perhaps the most spot on response to Paul’s hyperbole:

Could slaves free themselves by changing professions? Do doctors in Switzerland get taken away at gunpoint? To treat the analogy with technical seriousness, even setting aside (as if you could) the colossal weight of America’s most lasting shame, is to render it ridiculous, in my opinion.

Exactly. You know what’s like slavery, Senator? Actual slavery, which involves forcible labor without compensation. No serious person I know of has ever asserted that doctors should be forced to work without compensation (and if they did, they would be wrong). So, stay away from the dumb rhetoric and get back to do doing things like challenging the neocon orthodoxy in the Senate. This just makes you look ridiculous and makes it harder for people who disagree with you to take you seriously.

 

FILED UNDER: Health Care, Quick Takes, US Politics,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. michael reynolds says:

    We need a new Godwin’s Law to cover slavery analogies.

  2. legion says:

    Look, Paul. As you well know, physicians have a long history of deep social respect, given the amount of work you go through to be one, and the sort of life & death decisions that are part of the job; that higher respect carries with it higher responsibilities, and that includes a certain expectation of public-mindedness and self-sacrifice.

    If you prefer to think of the people who come to your practice as ‘customers’ rather than ‘patients’, by all means, carry on this line of reasoning. But bear in mind that public service (which includes politics) isn’t the best choice of career for a self-centered Objectivist.

  3. mantis says:

    Some of us knew he was nuts long ago, like when he came out publicly against the Civil Rights Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act, which are obviously awful freedom killing slave-making pieces of legislation too.

    I said it about his dad today, and the same holds true for Rand: a foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds. And oh, what little, foolish minds the Pauls have…

  4. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    Slavery was a poor analogy here. Fascism would be more appropriate.

  5. Southern Hoosier says:

    Even Rush thought slavery was a poor choice.

  6. Kylopod says:

    >Slavery was a poor analogy here. Fascism would be more appropriate.

    So you think every developed nation in the world except the U.S. is a fascist state?

  7. michael reynolds says:

    Fascism is almost as dumb as slavery.

    Every wealthy, developed, free country on earth has some kind of social safety net. It’s the poor, miserable hellholes don’t.

  8. Murray says:

    Not only is the analogy silly, we all know the first amendment gives us the right to storm into a newspaper’s office to have what we have to say published, but, as usual, Rand Paul comes up with his personal interest as example.

    He definitely is the kind of politician who gives Libertarianism a bad name, i.e.Libertarian=selfish brat since he is perfectly happy to cash in the very generous Medicare payments.

  9. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    So you think every developed nation in the world except the U.S. is a fascist state?

    Nope.

  10. mantis says:

    So you think every developed nation in the world except the U.S. is a fascist state?

    Nope.

    Fixed.

  11. Nightrider says:

    Ah, Rand Paul brings me back to my good old memories of living in Canada. I remember when the neurologist we had chained to our hot water heater refused to perform a catscan on a beaver we caught, so we beat him with an iron and sold his wife to an old man who thought she was very pretty.

  12. An Interested Party says:

    Considering that just about every developed nation has some form of universal health care (and even we have it for particular populations), how exactly, are all these places not fascist, according to Patrick T. McGuire’s “more appropriate” comparison?

  13. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    Fascism is almost as dumb as slavery.

    Every wealthy, developed, free country on earth has some kind of social safety net. It’s the poor, miserable hellholes don’t.

    Considering that just about every developed nation has some form of universal health care (and even we have it for particular populations), how exactly, are all these places not fascist, according to Patrick T. McGuire’s “more appropriate” comparison?

    For those of you paying attention, the topic at hand is not universal health care but rather the implications of an individual’s “right” to health care. Rand Paul compares it to slavery whereas I maintain it is closer to fascism.

    Do try to pay closer attention in the future.

  14. ratufa says:

    Saying that somebody has a “right” to something tends to be fraught with baggage and leads to arguments caused by people having different ideas of what a ‘right” is and what it implies. But, most people seem to be pretty comfortable with laws requiring hospitals to provide emergency medical care, even for people who can’t pay (EMTALA). And, there’s bi-partisan agreement (at least to some extent) that:

    Every American should have access to affordable health insurance, and the ability to acquire preventive health care and treatment – regardless of employment, health status, or income level.

    And achieving those things obviously involves some, as Rand Paul would put it, “implied use of force”, as do so many other laws and government actions, by either requiring someone to do something or taking money from someone and giving it to someone else.

    Even so, most people understand that there’s a real difference between actual slavery and the government forcing you to pay taxes or put on clothes before you leave your home. Though, if you want other points of view on this, go read some of the comments to Matt Welch’s response to Rand Paul’s remarks:

    http://reason.com/blog/2011/05/13/rand-pauls-slavery

  15. michael reynolds says:

    Patrick:

    I’m paying quite close attention. In every wealthy, successful, developed, free nation health care is a right.

    To call that notion fascist is idiotic.

  16. Patrick T. McGuire says:

    I’m paying quite close attention. In every wealthy, successful, developed, free nation health care is a right.

    To call that notion fascist is idiotic.

    Because other countries have health care as a right makes it not fascist!! How does that work?

  17. mantis says:

    Because other countries have health care as a right makes it not fascist!! How does that work?

    You have to believe the entire developed world is fascist, an idea completely absurd on its face.

    What planet do you live on?

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