By Zack Beauchamp
Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) equated government programs that prevent people from dying of starvation with slavery in a new profile of his medical practice published today, revealing himself to hold a view of the role of government so limited as to nearly define the state out of existence.
Paul’s philosophical excursus is buried in the midst of the too-friendly-for-parody article (it ends with a patient waxing poetic about how Paul “loves people“), but the words are unmistakably Randian. “As humans, yeah, we do have an obligation to give people water, to give people food, to give people health care,” Paul allowed, “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.”
The comments are an echo of his 2011 claim that accepting a human right to health care “means you believe in slavery,” but the Senator’s new variation on the theme is notable because it puts the reasoning behind the crazy in stark relief. Particularly, this line: “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?”
The basic idea is that if slavery means forcing people to do things, and saying people have a right to food means the government should require farmers to provide it to them, then a right to food means the enslavement of farmers. A moderately bright high school student could spot the leap of logic here: no one’s forcing anyone to farm against their will. 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. A socially-accepted “right to food” merely means the government should pay for the provision of food to those who can’t afford it. No stealing, and definitely no slavery.